Ezekiel Elliott hopes his final snap with the Dallas Cowboys isn't one in which he cameoed at center and was bulldozed on a floundering play in desperation time.
"I've definitely thought about it," he said. "I want to be here. I don't have a crystal ball. Can't predict the future, but definitely want to be here."
Zeke authored the worst season of his seven-year career in 2022. In 15 games, he generated 231 attempts for 876 yards with 3.8 yards per carry, all career-lows. He also had a career-worst 17 catches for 92 yards. The only thing Elliott proved decent at this season was scoring short-yardage touchdowns, netting 12 scores.
That production isn't worth the $10.9 million base salary he's due in 2023, which comes with a $16.72 million cap hit. Elliott's six-year, $90 million extension signed in 2019 has hamstrung the Cowboys since the pen was put to paper. It's one reason Amari Cooper was traded, and Dallas was forced to be frugal adding weapons.
This offseason marks the first time the Cowboys could realistically get out of Elliott's contract without a cratering hole. Cutting the RB before June 1 would come with an $11.86 million dead-money hit while saving $4.86 million. A post-June 1 designation -- which seems more likely -- would leave $5.82 million on the 2023 salary cap with $10.9 million in short-term savings.
Would Zeke consider a massive pay cut to remain in Dallas? Would that even make sense for the Cowboys outside of Jerry Jones' continued support for the running back?
Tony Pollard proved to be the better all-around back in 2023, providing a home-run threat and more efficient tackle-breaking ability. However, Pollard's injury in Sunday's season-ending loss threw another monkey wrench in the situation as the speedy back heads to free agency.